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Pack a picnic and head outdoors; it's the perfect warm weather way to dine--especially when these easy and delicious dishes are on the menu.

--Make ahead, meal-in-a-loaf Picnic Sandwich provides plenty of protein and vegetables-- deli meats, cheese and spinach topped with a tangy pickled beet, celery and bell pepper relish.

--Bean, Tortellini and Pesto Salad puts a new spin on a picnic favorite, bean salad. Start with a canned bean salad for extra quick prep.

--Colorful, antioxidant-rich Beet and Broccoli Salad Dijon packs a powerful nutrition and flavor punch for the picnic table.

--Finish with Spicy Beet cupcakes. The secret ingredient (beets) helps keep them extra moist, replaces some of the fat, and adds a nutrition boost to these "made from a mix," but "taste like scratch" cupcakes.

For additional recipes and product information, visit www.AuntNellies.com and www.READ-salads.com.


Bean, Tortellini and Pesto Salad

2 cans (15 ounces each) READ 3 or 4 Bean Salad
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated tortellini, any variety

Drain bean salad; reserve 1/2 cup liquid. Combine reserved liquid, pesto and salt, if desired; set aside. Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain, rinse in cold water and drain again. Add pesto dressing; toss to coat. Add stir-ins if desired. Toss with bean salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes 6 servings. Note: Recipe can be doubled.


Beet and Broccoli Salad Dijon

1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Whole or Sliced Pickled Beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 small clove garlic, minced
Salt and coarse grind black pepper (optional)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 cups cooked broccoli florets

Drain beets; reserve 3 tablespoons beet liquid. Cut whole beets in half. In small bowl, combine beet liquid, olive oil, mustard, garlic and salt and pepper, if desired. Whisk to blend. Stir in onion. Toss beets with dressing-onion mixture. Refrigerate, covered, to chill. (Make up to one day in advance.) To serve, add broccoli. Toss gently to combine. Makes 6 servings.


Picnic Sandwich

1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Whole or Sliced Pickled Beets
1 small yellow, red or green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 loaf (1 pound) French bread or other shape such as ciabatta
1 cup prepared hummus with Kalamata olives*
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 pound sliced provolone cheese
1/2 pound thinly sliced turkey breast, ham or roast beef

To prepare relish, drain beets; reserve 2 tablespoons beet liquid. Coarsely chop beets. Combine beets, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Stir together beet liquid and olive oil. Toss with relish ingredients. Add basil. Cut bread lengthwise in half. Hollow out halves, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell. Spread hummus inside each half. Arrange spinach leaves over bottom half, pressing into place. Top with cheese, beet relish and turkey. Close sandwich. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Sandwich can be refrigerated up to 24 hours before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Spicy Beet Cupcakes

1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Sliced Pickled Beets
Water
1 package (18.25 ounces) spice cake mix
2 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 20 standard muffin pan cups with cupcake liners or spray bottoms only with nonstick cooking spray. Drain beets; reserve liquid. In food processor, puree beets until smooth. Add enough water to reserved beet liquid to equal amount of water called for on package. In large bowl, beat cake mix, beet puree, beet liquid, eggs and oil on low speed of electric mixer 30 seconds to combine. Beat 2 minutes on medium until smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Makes 20 cupcakes.



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